in performance: big bad voodoo daddy

voodoo daddy

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy: Dirk Shumaker, Glen “The Kid” Marhevka, Kurt Sodegren, Scotty Morris, Karl Hunter, Joshua Levy, Andy Rowley.

Two songs into Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s immensely fun and musically good natured performance earlier tonight at the Lyric Theatre and you were hit by a drum roll that had Kansas City swing written all over it, a squadron of brass players tossing out unison melodies with the dizzying swiftness of a car chase and a playful run on piano that sounded like it was spilling out of a nearby juke joint.The resulting tune, an efficient balance of animated jazz sass and performance frenzy, was aptly titled The Jitters.

That was merely one snapshot from the 90 minute show, which also offered a mix of New Orleans jazz and soul (a gutsy move, coming two nights after a splendid outing by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on the same stage), Cab Calloway-inspired swing and deftly arranged originals.

Above all that – above, even BBVD’s expert musicianship – was the cordial mood the band set up. After 21 years of performing together without a personal change, the seven member Voodoo Daddy lineup (augmented last night by two additional horn players) still looked like it was having a blast onstage.

Sometimes that mood was reflected in the playing, like Andy Bowley’s baritone sax riff that belched like a bullfrog throughout Diga Diga Do. In another instance, it was simple human expression, like the massive smile and tip-of-the-hat bassist Dirk Shumaker offered the Lyric crowd as soon as he walked onstage. And it was displayed generously by frontman Scotty Morris – a somewhat reserved singer with expert phrasing and an inviting, natural for flair for playing host.

Then there were the purely musical joys. For Devil’s Dance, one of six tunes pulled from BBVD’s 2012 album Rattle Them Bones, trumpeter Glen “The Kid” Marhevka soloed with sharp, lyrical jabs over a band undercurrent that included the curiously harmonious blend of four string banjo (from Morris) and piano (from band arranger Joshua Levy). An even greater ensemble groove was summoned during a rumba style reading of the Crescent City party piece Zig Zaggity Woop Woop.

Wrapping it all up was So Long Farewell Goodbye, a punch-drunk parting shot where vocal duties and solos were juggled among the members. On one hand, it was pure campy fun. But it also reflected the honest good spirits – the real Woop, if you will – that dominated this richly fun swing celebration.

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